On War & Society



From LCMSDS Productions, The On War & Society podcast features interviews with the most prominent historians of war and society. Host Eric Story sits down with his guests to discuss their cutting-edge research, the challenges associated with doing history, and life 'behind the book.'


  • Episode 12 – A Microhistory of an Ace

    Episode 12 – A Microhistory of an Ace

    30/04/2018 Duración: 26min

    Billy Bishop is one of the most recognizable names in the military history of Canada. He was Canada’s top ace during the First World War, credited with over seventy victories during his career as a pilot with Royal Flying Corps. But there were many other pilots whose names have been forgotten because of Bishop’s looming shadow. Graham Broad, associate professor of history at King’s College at Western University, has uncovered the story of another ace, Eddie McKay, from London, Ontario. In this episode, Broad talks about not only the story of McKay, but also the process of researching and writing the story of McKay. References Graham Broad, One in a Thousand: The Life and Death of Captain Eddie McKay, Royal Flying Corps. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2017.

  • Episode 11 – Civil War and Identity

    Episode 11 – Civil War and Identity

    02/04/2018 Duración: 33min

    Discussions of the First World War in Europe are dominated by the events that transpired in France, Great Britain and Germany. But on the periphery of Europe, fascinating local, regional, national and international conflicts were also at play. The Finnish Civil War was one of these interesting, peripheral events. Fought between the socialist Reds and the anti-Russian Whites, the civil war began with a Red coup d’état and a White-led mass imprisonment of thousands of Russian army soldiers in January 1918. Few agree on who started the conflict, but the result was nonetheless tragic. More than 36,000 people were killed in just three and a half months. The legacies of the civil war were far-reaching. In the following decades, Finns left their home country in search for a new life. The political ideologies that were so stark during the Finnish Civil War remained for generations. Guest: Alec Maavara References Maavara, Alec. Finland Divided: The Finnish Civil War 1918. Finland Divided. https://finlanddivided.wordpr

  • Episode 10 – Destruction and Dissent in the Marshall Islands

    Episode 10 – Destruction and Dissent in the Marshall Islands

    28/02/2018 Duración: 27min

    The image of the mushroom cloud, commonly associated with a nuclear explosion, provides a stark reminder of the power and devastation of the atomic age. Aware of the horrible circumstances involving Hiroshima and Nagasaki, few may realize the full extent of nuclear weapons testing in the postwar period. Dr. Martha Smith-Norris, an associate professor of history at the University of Saskatchewan, explores this topic in her recent book, Domination and Resistance: The United States and the Marshall Islands during the Cold War. The United States seized the Marshall Islands from Japan toward the end of the Second World War and in the years that followed conducted extensive nuclear weapons and missile testing in this region of the central Pacific. Military testing in the Marshalls reinforced the US strategy of deterrence, but as Martha tell us, grand strategy and nuclear politics came with drastic consequences for the local population. Not only did the United States test nuclear bombs and missiles in the Marshall I

  • Episode 9 – Treating Wounds of the Mind

    Episode 9 – Treating Wounds of the Mind

    22/01/2018 Duración: 30min

    Post-traumatic stress order (or PTSD) remains a prominent issue within the Canadian military and has affected thousands of veterans who returned home. At the end of 2017, the Nova Scotia government announced that an inquiry will be made after a veteran shot and killed his daughter, wife and mother, then hanged himself in 2016. It is suspected that he had PTSD. Cases such as these have been featured in the media after many wars in the past, not just the more recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Dr. Meghan Fitzpatrick, a postdoctoral fellow in War Studies at the Royal Military College in Kingston, ON, just published a book on mental trauma during one of these past wars––the Korean War from 1950–53. She visited the studio to discuss her book, the various ways the military treated mental trauma on the battlefields of Korea, and also the costs of that trauma when soldiers returned home. At the end of the conflict, many veterans became disentangled in the politics of memory, as the conflict in Korea was not v

  • Episode 8 – In Search of the Canadian Officer

    Episode 8 – In Search of the Canadian Officer

    16/12/2017 Duración: 30min

    Many have fallen down the rabbit hole of over-researching. Telling the entire story is tempting, but it is an unattainable standard. Reconstructing the past out a series of texts simply cannot measure up to the multifaceted and dynamic realities of an all-encompassing history. And so it is imperative that historians abandon this idealized goal––if not for the sake of time, at least then for one’s sanity. Dr. Geoff Hayes, an associate professor of history at the University of Waterloo, visited us this month to talk about his new book Crerar’s Lieutenants. But before we discussed its content, Geoff talked about the challenges of the project, from the initial search to the eventual discovery of a satisfactory framework, and the necessity of imposing self-limitations on one’s historical research. Crerar’s Lieutenants unfolded over a period of many years, during which several drafts of the eventual manuscript were written. And with each revision, a new story was told. It wasn’t until he began to explore the Junior

  • Episode 7 – The Conscripted

    Episode 7 – The Conscripted

    27/11/2017 Duración: 23min

    The Conscription Crisis was the central political conflict of the First World War, affecting not only the Canadian government but having an immediate impact on over 400,000 Canadians who were registered for conscription with the intention of being sent overseas. Historians have focused on national divisions between English and French, rural and urban, and the working and middle class, but what has often been lost in these debates are those most directly impacted by conscription – the conscripts themselves. With four of his own ancestors conscripted and casualties of the First World War, Patrick Dennis, in his recently released book, Reluctant Warriors, sheds new light on both the events which led to the decision of the Canadian government to enact conscription in 1917, and the vital contribution made by these conscripts during the Hundred Days campaign of 1918. Guest host Kyle Pritchard sits down with Patrick to discuss his research on the experiences of Canadian conscripts and the present-day legacies of con

  • Episode 6 – Dunkirk

    Episode 6 – Dunkirk

    25/10/2017 Duración: 28min

    Christopher Nolan’s film Dunkirk hit theatres this past summer. It was met with critical acclaim and made hundreds of millions of dollars at the box office. It is arguably one of the greatest war films Hollywood has ever produced and certainly gave its viewers an authentic portrayal of the Battle of Dunkirk from the air, the water and the beach in the spring of 1940. It was a film that as Terry Copp explains “makes your blood boil.” But what we learn from Dunkirk is more raw emotion, fear and suspense of being a soldier, a pilot or a civilian crew member sailing the waters of the British channel. What the viewers do not get from the film is the broader history of the Second World War. What led these British troops to the beaches of Dunkirk? What role did the Royal Navy or the Royal Air Force play in the battle? Where were the French? Terry Copp, an eminent military historian in Canada, has been researching the Second World War for decades and has some insight into what exactly constitutes this broader histori

  • Episode 5 – Did You Fall Into The Vimy Trap?

    Episode 5 – Did You Fall Into The Vimy Trap?

    18/09/2017 Duración: 30min

    The Battle of Vimy Ridge was fought in April 1917 during the First World War. Four divisions of the Canadian Expeditionary Force attacked the German stronghold of Hill 145 on the morning of 9 April, and three days later, had successfully pushed the German army off of the ridge. Since those cold and wet April days one hundred years ago, Vimy has for many Canadians emerged as a symbol of Canadian nationhood. Ian McKay and Jamie Swift last year published The Vimy Trap: Or, How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Great War. Its exploration of the “childish irrationalism” of ‘Vimyism,” has been met with much praise; one recent view maintains that the Vimy Trap is a “necessary book.” But not all the reviews have been positive. Dr. Geoffrey Hayes of the University of Waterloo has concerns with the book’s arguments and approach. References Fussell, Paul. The Great War and Modern Memory. Oxford University Press, 1975. Mckay, Ian and Jamie Swift. The Vimy Trap: Or, How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Grea

  • Episode 4 – Canadas Arctic Laboratory

    Episode 4 – Canada's Arctic Laboratory

    18/08/2017 Duración: 32min

    Dr. Matthew Wiseman just finished his Ph.D. on Canadian science during the early Cold War. And he is a bit concerned about the developing nuclear crisis between the United States and North Korea, as many of us are too. President Donald Trump’s fiery rhetoric has agitated Kim Jong Un and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to the point where they are threatening to bomb Guam, an unincorporated territory of the United States. Matthew explains how Canada has responded to nuclear crises in the past, and how it might maneuver in this current, heated climate.  The Cold War was a pivotal event in the twentieth century, and Matthew tells us how Canada was ‘pulled’ into it following the Second World War. Although pursuing independent and separate agendas, Canada, the United States and Great Britain all looked to the Arctic as a ‘mutual interest point’ when preparing for a potential northern attack from the Soviet Union. For Canada, the Defence Research Board established a facility at Churchill, Manitoba, and beg

  • Episode 3 – Complicating History

    Episode 3 – Complicating History

    01/07/2017 Duración: 26min

    Who is Wilfrid Laurier University’s Cleghorn Fellow in War and Society? Mary Chaktsiris dropped by the studio this month to talk about her new position, teaching in a different environment, and her research into Toronto and the Great War. Mary became the Cleghorn Fellow in 2016, following a two-year stint at the Council of Ontario Universities. Teaching four classes at a new university this past year, Mary still finds that community-building is one of the most important parts of being a professor wherever one may be. Focusing on Toronto during the Great War-period in her dissertation, Mary insists that gender is a key component of understanding Torontonians’ responses to the war effort. In doing so, her short but stellar publishing career has been marked by challenging or as she puts it, “complicating” the literature on the First World War. Certainly, patriotism and pro-war sentiment existed in Toronto, but so did the voices of ambivalence. As she moves on as a scholar in history, Mary is now looking into the

  • Episode 2 – Somewhere Between War and Society

    Episode 2 – Somewhere Between War and Society

    11/06/2017 Duración: 25min

    What happened to Montreal during the Great War? For the past three years, distinguished military historian Terry Copp has been researching Canada’s metropolis––Montreal––from 1914 to 1918. In our conversation, Terry discusses the various social, religious and political cleavages within the city beyond the divide between English and French-speaking populations. Although the war intensified many of these cleavages and sewed deep divisions between communities residing within Montreal, Terry is hesitant to argue that the war fundamentally changed the city. Manuscripts published in university presses are the ‘gold standard’ for those working in the field of history, but Terry has decided not to pursue his project on Montreal in traditional manuscript form. He and a student-research assistant have been creating a website for his project, which will allow him the freedom to include (and exclude) short vignettes, stories, maps and databases, which would be nearly impossible to do in a manuscript. It has given him the

  • Episode 1 – The War Junk Historian

    Episode 1 – The War Junk Historian

    02/05/2017 Duración: 25min

    Eric Story sits down with Dr. Alex Souchen, a post-doctoral fellow at the Laurier Centre for Military Strategic and Disarmament Studies in Waterloo, ON, to discuss his research on munitions dumping in Canada during the 1940s. Alex helps explain the destructive environmental legacies of munitions dumping in Canada and around the world, and speaks about the growing scientific debate surrounding these legacies. Where does the historian fit in these discussions? In a small role, perhaps, says Alex, but an essential one if we are to understand the ecological impacts of munitions dumping.  Towards the end of the conversation, Alex provides some helpful advice for soon-to-be graduating PhDs about how to market yourself as you enter the workforce and the difficult transition from academics to a profession outside of the field of history.  Music credits: Lee Rosevere

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